Saturday, December 09, 2006

Against the Giants by Ru Emerson

Rating - 2: not worth reading (skip it)

I was pleased to see an example of low fantasy, but this is a poor example. The story is weak, character knowledge is contrived, characterization is poor where extant, the pacing is uneven, and descriptions of violence and combat vary from excessively harsh to nearly whitewashed.

I give you the book's back cover summary: "A village burns while its attackers flee into the night. Enraged, the King of Keoland orders an aging warrior to lead a band of adventurers on a retaliatory strike. As they prepare to enter the heart of the monsters' lair, each knows that only the bravest will survive. Against the odds. Against the giants."

Ms. Emerson presumably did not write that copy, and whoever did had not read the book. Of it, the following is accurate: "an aging warrior [leads] a band of adventurers...[a]gainst the giants." The village was attacked in the rain, the King of Keoland did not appear, it was a recon mission, there was no epiphany about bravery.

The book has all the hallmarks of something written under contract. Someone at TSR decided to novelize their classic adventures, so they found someone who had done Xena novelizations and set her loose.

The book covers three old D&D adventures. The first quarter is set-up, the next half of the book is the first adventure, one-sixth covers the second, and the last is crammed into about thirty pages, including the anti-climax. Pacing lurches and things become exceedingly convenient where necessary to cut the page count.

Have I said enough? Don't read this book.

Amazon link

The Amazon comments are amusing, particularly some people who took issue with the book's failure to follow D&D rules. Your biggest problem with the novel was that the Spiritual Hammer spell did too much damage? The point is well made that everyone was one-shotting giants. The fearsome enemies died in a few seconds each and rarely did any damage. When you end your suicide mission with more people than you started with, the enemy has failed to live up to the hype.

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